The story of Guacamayo's Old Song and Dance, a one-act opera for five singers and twelve instrumentalists performing on acoustic and electronic instruments, is drawn from the Popul Vuh, an ancient book of the Maya peoples, who still live in Guatemala and sounthern Mexico. In the opera, five contemporary Mayas (two grandparents, two grandchildren and a storyteller) give us a glimpse of their oral tradition by telling and enacting the story of Seven Macaw, and his two sons Zipacna and Cabracan--false gods pretending to be the creators of Light, the Mountains, and the Flatlands, respectively.
The story takes place in a time when people were made of wood. The (true) Creator-Gods, collectively referred to as "Hurikan" (from which we derive the word "hurricane"), had failed for the third time in their attempt to create the human race. They were just conceiving the sun and moon, and contriving a big flood to flush out the wooden people to make way for another try at the creation of mankind when they noticed these False Gods on the earth. Our story begins as the two boy-warrior-gods, Hunahpu and Ixbalanque (Eesh-ba-lan-kay) are on their way, sent by Hurikan, to trick the three False Gods into their own deaths.
The subsequent missions of trickery, recounted by these five people of today, take on increasingly contemporary significance as the storytellers reinforce the ancient Maya belief in eternal recurrence: events will come again, though differing in detail.
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Guacamayo: Gary Rideout, Ixbalanque: Norine Burgess, Hunahpu: Valerie Gonzalez, Ixmucane: Wendy Nielsen, Ixpyacoc: Robert Milne